It is possible to “reboot” capitalism as a defensible system. You do what the post-Poldark generation had to: impose regulations that prevent exploitation, suppress the market, place certain functions and prices under the control of the state. You treat speculators, monopolists and crooks of the Warleggan variety as social outcasts, not invite them to become the biggest donors to your party.
Capitalism and markets are two different things. They’re not even measurements along the same axis.
Capitalism is about who owns productive assets? Markets are about prices and distribution. Information more than anything else, who wants what and who is prepared to produce it?
It’s entirely possible to have a functioning non-capitalist economy. We’ve got large chunks of that in our own economy. John Lewis is not a capitalist organisation. Mondragon works just fine.
But we still need the information capacity of prices to drive production and distribution. Thus we still need to be a market economy. Except, of course, where we don’t, the military being an excellent example of when we want a definitively non-market economy, a totally planned, monopolised, one.
I know I rail about this too much (something I have in common with Brad Delong) but capitalism is a take or leave it sorta choice. Useful, desirable possibly even, but not essential. Markets and prices are indeed essential – except in those areas where they’re not – for we simply don’t have anything else with the coordination capabilities available to us.
And sadly this is an extremely common mistake over there on the left. Much of it stemming from Marx’s inability to get the point but it does go all the way back to Aquinas and to one of other of the bearded Greek blokes, the idea of the “just” price. They rail about the inequities of capitalism – OK, fair enough – then insist that markets be curbed. This is akin to insisting that we don’t like that shade of blue for the living room walls therefore C# instead.
We’ve had centuries of this and they’re still getting the most basic underlying point wrong.